The Gospel Today
Thursday of the Third Week of Lent
Lk 11: 14-23
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute,
and when the demon had gone out,
the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed.
Some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons.”
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself,
how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
Reflection (Sem. Nelson S. Maningas)
I had this childhood experience which seems to be very funny to hear but for now. It had something to do with my faith now as a Catholic and spoke of the Gospel message for today. I was so scared of ghosts then, because we usually listened to a night radio program “Isang Gabi ng Lagim”. Though it was just audio and no visuals I could imagine the faces of the characters, the ugly faces of the monsters and creatures as described in the program. Every night I listened to that program together with all my siblings. We used to scare each other and that added more thrill every night. As usual, whenever I felt afraid thinking that the ghosts were just around me I would pray. I would grab my rosary and put it around my neck believing with that I will be safe and no ghost or any dreaded creature can come close to me. That was why each time we went Manaoag I would look for a book that had a prayer to drive out demons or even ghosts, because in my faith there was no power that could overcome the power of God in prayer.
In reality I have not seen a real ghost. There are some manifestations that may be ghosts or not, but each time I experience this I pray. I know there are things that cannot be outdone by just praying, there must be concrete moves to overcome them. Just like what the Gospel is telling us today, that we must be always on guard and arm ourselves and not let the enemy overcome us. “We are not fighting against flesh and blood here but the power of the devil”, as what the other passage says. More than the fear of seeing ghosts or whatever monsters like my childhood fears, the fear of losing God’s friendship because of sin is what I should guard myself against. This is what my confessors always tell me, to avoid the occasions of sin and to should guard myself from the temptations of the devil. Every day we battle against the enemy of our soul; we need not to be exorcists or experts to drive the devil away, we just have to remain in the friendship of Christ.
Jesus says in the Gospel that “Whoever is not with me is against me and whoever does not gather with me scatters”. Perhaps this is an invitation for all of us to be with the Lord in doing the will of the Father. If we do so, no amount of fear can make us tremble in front of the devil if we remain with Christ. Let us be one in building the kingdom of God here on earth, by doing what is right and pleasing to the Father and by avoiding evil.